Two Words. Christmas Torture.

I am mostly done shopping, which is a miracle because I refuse to start shopping before my birthday which is precipitously close to Christmas.

My son is going mad not knowing what is in the wrapped boxes under the tree.

He shakes them and weighs them and stares at them and all but moons over them.

Wrapped presents torture my son. He can't eat, he can't sleep. He wakes up in the middle of the night asking if its Christmas eve YET and can he open just ONE box?

In my heart I add this to the TOP of the list of  reasons why I don't go gift shopping sooner -- Presents in this house in November might drive this poor child to insanity.

Last night, after a glass of wine, I broke a little bit under his interrogation. I told him this short story about shopping for the BIG gift he didn't ask for, which I've been very clear is NOT an Xbox or Playstation, in a short narrative like this.

I walked into the store (him - what store? what STORE? me - I won't tell you what store, just listen! him- I'm DYING HERE AUUGGGHH) and the guy said can I help you and I said something joking to him, and he gave me a weird look, and I shrugged and as I was leaving the store a few minutes later he came to me and showed me this box and I had to buy it. 

Zack doubles over in pain like his appendix is bursting. WHAT DID YOU ASK FOR? 

 He tries, from there, to get me to tell him more and more but I stonewalled him. Nope. No way, no how. I'm maximizing the investment on this gift and thankful my kids are post-Santa and I don't have to give away credit for the best gifts to a perhaps imaginary man who may/may not show up on Duck Dynasty in a supporting role one day in 2014.

My son  moans, he sings, he dances, he wails. He is suffering, truly.  What did you ASK for? What did you SAY?

Finally, probably more from wine than from his badgering, I give in a tiny bit and give him a clue by repeating the story with one little addition.

I walked into the store - a store you've never been in, not with me -- and the guy said can I help you and I said these two words and .... and.....  he gave me a weird look, and I shrugged and as I was leaving the store a few minutes he came to me and showed me this box and I had to buy it.

My son's eyes light up like he has something but as he processes it out loud he realizes he doesn't.

 It's two words? TWO WORDS? Disney World? New House? Pet hamster? THAT DIDN'T HELP!

I pull my son to me and hug him and tell him I know I didn't help him at all, and that I love him.

Two words.

Christmas torture.

You'll see.





The Lecture.

The day has caught up with me and I know by the time I get home the kids will be starving so I drive through Wendy's.

My son likes his hamburger with only ketchup. He's picky.

I order carefully, making sure to say "hamburger with ketchup only" and then check on the screen to see that I was understood. Yes, there. I see it. I continue with the order and when I ask for spicy nuggets she says it will be a 4 minute wait. This happens every time I order them, I'm used to the wait.

I pay at the first window and the woman there hardly makes eye contact with me because she's already taking another order. I don't know how they juggle this crazy multi-tasking, and I don't want to mess them up so I stay as quiet as I can.

She hands me my receipt and points for me to go to the next window while she covers her ear with one hand, trying hard to understand the order that is being shouted at her with a tremendous southern drawl.

At the next window a woman hands me a bag and two drinks and tells me to pull up and wait for the nuggets. Fine, fine, I'll wait for the nuggets.

As I'm waiting I pull out Zack's hamburger to make SURE it had only ketchup.

Nope. It's wrong. It has cheese.

Good thing I checked, he would have flipped. The cheese is melted to the bun and impossible to pull off and since I have these few minutes waiting for the nuggets, I get out of my car and walk into Wendy's holding the half-wrapped sandwich.

The cashier waves me to the front of the line. What's wrong?

I asked for a hamburger, ketchup only, and this has cheese.

She nods her head and I go back to the car and wait for someone to bring the bag out.

Just as I'm falling into an article on blackholes and wormholes a woman appears at my window holding a bag.

I open the window to get it but she holds it a little tight and doesn't hand it over.

Instead, she takes this moment to tell me how to improve my ordering.

Excuse me but you should know that all our hamburgers have cheese. If you want a hamburger without cheese, you have to ask for the hamburger without cheese.

I'm shocked. People don't lecture me, not usually, and it takes me a beat to respond.

So asking for a hamburger with ketchup only  isn't enough?

No she says.

In  that moment, I get the impression she thinks I'm a bit daffy, a little stupid.

I should have driven away but I have to ask her, since she's made herself the designated lecturer.

OK, so you are telling me there is no difference between a hamburger and a cheeseburger? Even though they are both separately on your menu? And no matter which I order, you'll give me a cheeseburger?

She looks at me. Maybe I talked to fast. Maybe I thought too fast.

 Still holding my bag, she repeats,  If you don't want cheese on your hamburger you have to say you don't want cheese on your hamburger."

I pull the bag from her hand and smile and thank her saying not too convincingly, "You've been very helpful."



Car Talk

Despite the fact that kids should not be on campus, a series of events leaves me with my son coming to class WITH me on a horrendously rainy day.  I only have one class to teach, and there is no way I can cancel it, especially after saying over and over that there WILL BE LECTURE on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

I  buy my son locos tacos and tell him I plan to hide him in the technology closet in the  front corner. He has his ipad and his NY Yankees ballcap which he wears like a security blanket. I think he'll be fine.

We get to class and I turn the computer on while Zack hides in his closet corner.

 Students ask questions on papers and exams and this and that, and soon enough it's time for class to start.

I lecture for a few minutes then realize my students are staring out the window at the wall of water that's coming down.  It's a great day to be in bed, to not be driving or walking or facing the world. But anyway, here we are and its the end of the semester so we have to keep rolling.

I go through the 1920s reviewing a bit and adding more. We cover the rise of the KKK and Buck v Bell and the other ways the 1920s were conservative.

Then my turns to the rise of automobiles and credit. I know where I'm going on this straight line to the economy crashing, the New Deal then the road to WW2.

My son has less faith.

Out of the corner of my eye I see him flagging me down frantically.

What? I gesture.

Come HERE he gestures.

WHAT? I gesture again, the class now giggling at our exchange.

I tiptoe over to where Zack is and ask him again, WHAT?

You're talking about cars, he says.

Yes I'm talking about cars, I reply.

You're supposed to be talking about history, he says.

I'm supposed to be talking about history? I repeat.

Yes Mom. World War 1. World War 2. History, mom, that's what you're here for.

Cars are history, I tell my son.

Cars are HISTORY?

Yes. Everything is history.  Are you impressed?

He crosses his arms and frowns a little, then leans back in his spot so I can get back to lecture.

Before FDR gets elected the rain stops and the sky clears a little.

After the students clear out I walk with him to the car, impressing him with bits of this and that and making the most out of our day together.